The importance of checking iron
The discussion of iron and hair growth is controversial. Some studies have shown no clear cut relationship ... and yet others have! Our cut off in the clinic for what is considered a normal ferritin level is 40 micrograms/L. Very rarely, I aim for 70.
In 1992, Drs Rushton and Ramsay conducted a study looking at women with genetic hair loss who were being treated with an antiandrogen medication (called cyproterone acetate). The researchers showed that women with iron levels above 40 had much better results with the antiandrogen pill than women who had iron levels below 40.
It's clear that treating hair loss requires careful attention to many parameters, including the patient's iron status.
Rushton DH, et al. The importance of adequate serum ferritin levels during oral cyproterone acetate and ethinyl oestradiol treatment of diffuse androgen-dependent alopecia in women. Clinical Trial. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1992.
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299